Column, The Movie Diary

Exactly who’s in charge?

By Dom Cioffi 

Recently, I told my son that I thought he was old enough and mature enough to watch “The Godfather” trilogy (I left out the fact that all three films run nearly 3 hours, which would have dissuaded him). He agreed, mostly because he’d been hearing pop culture references to the films for years. (Every gangsta rapper on earth idolizes either Michael Corleone from “The Godfather” or Tony Montana from “Scarface.”)

We planned to watch the first movie last Sunday night. However, my wife intervened and begged us to watch a comedy. She said she couldn’t bear the idea of a mob movie – even though it’s widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

We eventually acquiesced and agreed to watch the new Jennifer Lopez rom-com, “Shotgun Wedding” (see last week’s review). That was a big mistake.

We haven’t revisited the “Godfather” films yet, but it’s high on my priority list. I like exposing my son to quality films since so much of what’s released these days is garbage. I want him to have a good palate when he gets older so if someone mentions a particular classic, he can talk intelligently about it.

Talking intelligently about film is a lost art, likely because there are so few films to talk intelligently about. In fact, there’s not a lot of things to talk intelligently about these days — it’s all internet memes and conspiracy theories. And if you do try to talk intelligently about a given subject, you never know if the facts you’d like to base an argument on are true.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have a total ban on national media (which I wholeheartedly support), you’ve likely heard about the release of ChatGPT, a new AI system that has the entire world in awe about how intelligent it seems.

Basically, ChatGPT is a computer program that has scanned all the available data in the world and then learned how to intelligently communicate it back to humans. For an example, I asked ChatGPT this question: “What is ChatGPT?” Here’s how it answered:

“ChatGPT is a conversational AI model developed by OpenAI. It is a language model based on the transformer architecture, which uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like text. ChatGPT has been trained on a diverse range of internet text, so it can respond to a wide range of questions and generate text on a variety of topics.”

That answer may not impress everyone, but you must admit, that’s a pretty good response for a computer; it seems pretty human to me. I used to easily pick out computer-generated news stories because they were uncomfortably written with poor grammar and sloppy punctuation. ChatGPT is on a whole new level.

To test it further, I asked for a brief review on “The Godfather” and here’s what it spit out:

“The Godfather” is a classic crime drama that tells the story of the Corleone family, a powerful Italian-American mafia clan. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the film boasts a phenomenal cast, including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Richard S. Castellano. The script, based on the novel by Mario Puzo, is expertly written, and the cinematography is stunning. The film’s themes of power, loyalty, and family are timeless, and its impact on the crime genre cannot be overstated. If you haven’t seen “The Godfather,” it’s a must-watch for any cinephile. The performances, direction, and storytelling are all top-notch, making it a true masterpiece of American cinema.”

Keep in mind, ChatGPT didn’t find that text somewhere and regurgitate it. It read every possible thread on the internet that mentioned the movie and then came up with its own conclusion. That’s a remarkable jump in AI, which is why everyone is concerned (think about what this means for teachers assigning homework papers).

I gave it one more test. I asked the most random thing I could think of: “Tell me a joke about the Buddha and a giraffe.” The reply: “Why did the Buddha bring a ladder to the zoo? So he could talk to the giraffe on a higher level.”

And that, my friends, is when I got scared…

This week’s feature, “M3GAN,” could possibly be a later incarnation of ChatGPT (if things go horrible wrong). And if this is the future, we’re in trouble.

M3GAN is a life-like, full-sized child doll that can learn and communicate in whatever environment she’s placed into. When one family introduces a M3GAN doll into their home, they are hopeful their daughter will come to love, learn from, and appreciate her new companion.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

“M3GAN” is a twisted sci-fi horror film meant to push the boundaries of how AI could go rogue in the future. Check this one out if you love the idea of artificial intelligence destroying humanity, just don’t expect the intellectual level of “Ex Machina.”

A “B-” for “M3GAN”, now playing in theaters everywhere.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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